By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM with SHIELA MAE BUTLIG,
MAYOR Oscar Moreno, Imus Mayor Emmanuel and other officials Maliksi evacuated from Limketkai Luxe Hotel as a powerful earthquake shook parts of the edifice on Wednesday night.
Mylene Sison, public relations and marketing manager of Luxe Hotel, said the third level of Tower 2 of the Limketkai-owned property was temporarily closed yesterday.
The decision was made so that an engineering team and corporate office to conduct a “composite check and validation on the specific area where wall cracks were found [in the] aftermath of the earthquake…”
Sison, however, said it’s business as usual at Tower 1 where the hotel’s lobby, function rooms, outlets, and guest rooms are located.
“We shall be releasing an update on this matter as soon as our Structural Engineering Team be done with their over-all evaluation,” reads part of the hotel’s statement.
Moreno, Maliksi and other officials were at the second level of the hotel for a program highlighted by the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the two local chief executives on behalf of their cities when the earthquake struck.
The mayors and those in attendance were told to leave the function hall.
The agreement, signed by Moreno and Maliksi, formalized the sisterhood agreement between the two cities.
“The event was cut short. Everybody went out,” said Maricel Casiño-Rivera, city hall spokesperson.
Isabelle Czarina Soriano, a city hall employee, said they had to evacuate and had to go out of the hotel and waited until the shaking stopped.
“At first, I thought there were pieces of confetti that fell from the chandelier. I thought it was part of the program. But later, I saw that the lamps on the ceiling were swaying. Everybody paused. Then we realized it was an earthquake. That was when we started to get out,” Soriano said.
According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, the earthquake’s origin was at Tulunan, North Cotabato, at 7:37 pm Wednesday with a magnitude of 6.3 and depth of 015 kilometers.
An Intensity II was felt in Cagayan de Oro, but it registered Intensity V in the Modified Mercalli Intensity, which means moderate shaking was experienced.
At the nearby SM CDO Downtown Premier, a group of journalists and bloggers gathered for an eat-all-you-can dinner at the third level of the mall when the earthquake struck.
Reporter Pamela Jay Orias said her immediate reaction was to take cover as soon as the tremor intensified.
“The earthquake drill of duck-cover-hold came in handy at that moment. The first thing that came to my mind when it started shaking was to protect myself,” said Orias.
Orias and a few others hunched under the tables. There were only a few customers in the restaurant who did the same thing.
Reporter Menzie Montes said she saw that as another opportunity to phone in a report on air.
“I didn’t panic at all. I just did what every reporter does when caught in a situation like this. You simply report what is happening around you,” Montes said.
Montes said she interviewed one of the restaurant’s staff members and several customers.
A few minutes later, mall-goers were advised by the mall management through a public address system to slowly walk out of the building.
In Misamis Oriental, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office chief Fernando Dy said the earthquake did not cause major damages in the province.
He said the PDRRMO quickly mobilized and activated its operations center on orders from Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano.
He said the capitol had anticipated aftershocks after the earthquake.
Provincial engineer Mario Batar and provincial architect Joseph Arao-Arao said no building sustained major damage or collapsed in the capitol compound.